This autumn the dynamic, dazzling and delightful Ballet Black returns to Oxford Playhouse with a fresh triple bill of dances.  Artistic Director Cassa Pancho once again commissions bold choreography, blending the classical and contemporary, narrative and abstract, for a company comprising British and international dancers of black and Asian descent.

A four-hander characterised by intricate detail and propulsive energy, Captured ebbs and flows to the fiery emotion of Martin Lawrance’s edgy choreography, set to a Shostakovich string quartet. First premiered in 2012, Captured was an instant audience and critical success.  French choreographer, Ludovic Ondiviela, presents Dopamine (you make my levels go silly), a beautiful pas de deux about love, lust and passion, with an original score created by acclaimed British composer, Fabio D’Andrea.  South Bank Sky Arts Award-winner Annabelle Lopez Ochoa turns a popular fairy tale on its head, as Red Riding Hood is given a surprising twist.

“Dash, daring and joie-de-vivre”  The Guardian

“A funny, gutsy spin on the traditional fairytale that’s clearly a riot to dance”  The Guardian on Red Riding Hood

Performance:  Wednesday 4th October,  7.30pm

Venue:  Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2LW

Tickets:  £10 – £25 available from the Ticket Office on 01865 305305 or book online at www.oxfordplayhouse.com

Age guideline: 7 years plus

Find out more about Ballet Black here

Read Susie Crow’s review of their previous performance at the Oxford Playhouse in 2016  here

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Last week, Richard Alston Dance Company brought Oxford Playhouse a programme that was all about surprising encounters: tango and contemporary dance; Britten and Purcell; Scarlatti and Andalusia; Indian and Western classicism.

The evening opened with Martin Lawrance’s Tangent, a clever take on tango for four couples, set to Piazzolla’s Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas, which was played at the grand piano on stage by Jason Ridgway. Lawrance uses steps such as picked up foot-crossing walks, sharp changes of direction and occasional close holds to hint at tango, but this contemporary dance piece is not at all like ‘Strictly’, although there is plenty of spectacle. (more…)

World renowned Richard Alston Dance Company return to Oxford Playhouse with a brand new programme of critically acclaimed work. This triple bill features work inspired by some of the world’s greatest composers, as well as an appearance by BBC Young Dancer of the Year 2015 grand finalist Vidya Patel.

With nearly 50 years choreographing dance, Richard Alston is one of the most influential artists in modern dance. Known for his instinctive musicality, he is renowned for working closely with the music he uses, seeking to use it as both a partner to the dancers, as well as stimulus for the creation of the choreographic work. This triple bill is a thrilling example, with dances inspired by composers from Italy, Argentina and Britain.

In Tangent, Associate Choreographer Martin Lawrance explores the vivid accents and attack of tango. Four couples glide through the Four Seasons of Buenos Aires by tango master Piazzolla. Chacony, Alston’s newest dance, is inspired by Britten’s tribute to Purcell’s Chaconne. The dance celebrates the richness and nobility of Purcell, reaching into darker places before reaffirming hope for humanity. Alston’s An Italian in Madrid is influenced by the sonatas of Scarlatti, a baroque composer hugely influenced by Spanish guitar music.

Performances:  Friday 12th & Saturday 13th May, 7.30pm

Venue:  Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2LW

Tickets:  £11.50 – £22 (discounts available)

Call the Ticket Office on 01865 305305 or book online here

Described by the Times as a “choreographer for whom every dance is a love affair with his chosen music”, Richard Alston brings his acclaimed company back to Oxford’s Playhouse with a stunning mixed bill.  Alston’s superbly skilled choreography combines three pieces of music by Benjamin Britten and three very different poets.  Rejoice in the Lamb is danced to Britten’s joyous setting of the fervent words of Christopher Smart. Hölderlin Fragments is inspired by Friedrich Hölderlin’s enigmatic lyrics, and Illuminations paints a vivid picture of the wild young genius and misfit Arthur Rimbaud.

In addition to the trio of Britten pieces, the bill is completed by Associate Choreographer Martin Lawrance’s latest piece, Burning, which is as passionate and turbulent as its music, the Dante Sonata of Franz Liszt, played live on stage. (more…)

It was exciting to see a programme on Saturday that included Richard Alston’s Lachrymae and Illuminations in Benjamin Britten’s centenary year.  The company opened with The Devil in the Detail, to Scott Joplin’s music (piano accompaniment by Faith Leadbetter, the only “live” music in the programme).  Kenneth Macmillan’s Elite Syncopations is a hard act to follow, but Nancy Nerantzi led this gentler dance work with charm and grace, bringing out the delightful sense of fun in the choreography, which ripples through the music like a stream of water.  The only problem is the score, which although pleasure to listen to, doesn’t seem to go anywhere (and so neither can the dance). (more…)

The Richard Alston Dance Company brings a triple bill to the Oxford Playhouse that shows the typical musicality of its founder’s work. The diversity of the evening’s composers prompts a corresponding diversity in the dance, seen in the opening two pieces, Alston’s own, and the third, that of his associate Martin Lawrance.

Buzzing Round the Hunnisuccle is set to three works by contemporary composer Jo Kondo. There is an austerity, an unemotional quality in them that the dance matches very well. The dancers’ bodies form one shape after another, sculptural, athletic seeming poses with arms widely extended. (more…)

In the programme, Richard Alston quotes Balanchine’s statement “see the music, hear the dance”, and the music that he invites us to “see” in this triple bill is typically diverse:  Jo Kondo for Buzzing Round the Hunnisuccle; Mozart and Ferruccio Busoni for Unfinished Business, and finally Julia Wolfe for Martin Lawrance’s work Madcap.

I saw this programme twice, once from the Stalls and once from the Circle, and each was a completely different experience.  (more…)